was a famous nineteenth century Irish
novelist, poet, and playwright, best known
for his mockeries of English society.
His most famous works include The Importance
of Being Earnest, and his novel The Picture
of Dorian Gray.
Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 in
Dublin, Ireland to Sir William Wilde and
Jane Francesca Elgee. His father was a
well-known oto-ophthalmologic surgeon
who was knighted for his work with medicine.
Wilde's mother, Jane, was a famous writer,
poet, and nationalist who used her patriotism
as a basis for her work.
the age of one, Wilde moved with his parents
and older brother to fashionable Merrion
Square where his younger sister was born.
Up until the age of nine, Oscar Wilde
received his schooling at home, but later
attended Portora Royal School from 1864
to 1871. He spent his childhood summers
in rural Waterford at his father's family
home in Mayo.
Oscar Wilde finished his primary education,
he went on to study the classics at Trinity
College in Dublin. He stayed there from
1871 to 1874 and received the Berkeley
Gold Medal for his academic achievements
at the school. As a result of his success,
Wilde received a scholarship to Magdalen
College at Oxford where he studied until
1878. During his time at Oxford, Wilde
became involved in the Aesthetic movement,
a way of life dedicated to living with
intensity through art. It was during this
time that Wilde became known as quite
an eccentric. He decorated his room with
peacock feathers, grew long hair, and
scorned many masculine activities and
sports. Despite his reputation of having
an effeminate behavior and criticism from
both faculty and students, Wilde continued
to do well in his academics. He even won
the 1878 Newdigate Prize for one of his
poems, Ravenna, before graduating that
Wilde returned to Dublin after his studies
at Magdalen, he met Florence Balcombe,
a woman who, at the time, was engaged
to marry another writer, Bram Stoker.
After falling in love with her and learning
of her engagement, Wilde vowed to leave
Ireland and told Balcombe that he would
never return. He left later that same
year and spent the next six years travelling
and giving lectures in London, Paris,
and the United States.
one of his visits to London, Oscar Wilde
met a woman named Constance Lloyd, the
daughter of Horace Lloyd who was a member
of the Queen's Counsel. They met in 1884
and married in May of the same year. Constance
gave birth to two boys in the next two
years, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886.
Later, after Wilde's downfall, Constance
would adapt the surname Holland to protect
herself and their sons from the controversy.
Cyril later died while fighting in France
in World War I.
became known as an eccentric personality
associated with the Art movement of the
late 1800s. When Gilbert and Sullivan's
Patience opened in the U.S., they arranged
to have Wilde do a series of lectures
prior to their opening in order to generate
interest in the movement and their project.
Critics both praised and objected to Wilde
but the publicity was perfect for the
opening of the play.
Wilde's eccentricity and effeminate manners
raised public questions regarding his
sexuality. Although many historians thought
he was homosexual, Wilde himself, saw
his own sexuality as a reflection of the
ancient Greek paederastic traditions.
It's believed that Wilde had relations
with a few men, Constance, his wife, as
well as younger men known as "rent
boys". According to Neil McKenna's
biography on the author, Wilde had his
first homosexual encounter at the age
of 16 but did not fully embrace his attraction
to men until shortly after his marriage
to Constance. Due to the nature of his
writing and his characters, historians
still question Wilde's sexual preferences.
personal writing career began in 1891
with the publication of Lord Arthur Savile's
Crime and Other Short Stories. His most
famous novel, Picture of Dorian Gray,
was also published the same year. His
plays started appearing shortly thereafter,
beginning with Lady Windermere's Fan in
1892 and The Importance of Being Earnest
his sexuality and his slightly controversial
writings brought him to the attention
of some famous politicians, most notably
the marquess of Queensberry whose son,
Alfred Douglas, had been intimate with
Wilde. The marquess accused Wilde of homosexual
practices and Wilde retaliated by bringing
charges of libel against the marquess.
As a result, Oscar Wilde was charged with
homosexual offenses under the Criminal
Law Amendment and sentenced to two years
of imprisonment and hard labor. Wilde
continued to write while in prison, later
publishing his poem The Ballad of Reading
Gaol which was inspired by his experience.
He was released in 1897.
a result of his imprisonment and social
rejection in England, Oscar Wilde went
bankrupt, moved to France, and changed
his name. He fell ill and later died on
November 30, 1900.
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